Springingtiger's Blog


Spellchecker

I know I’m not the greatest speller in the world, I’m not always grammatically correct either. I find it strange that the errors I fail to spot in my own writing scream out at me from that of someone else.

I was reading and enjoying a draft by someone else today and it reminded me of how important it is to have an independent reader to look over my writing. I say I was enjoying what I was reading and I was. I was enjoying the plot and the characterisation, but oh the spelling! Obviously what I’m reading is an early draft and I’m sure the mistakes will be picked up in the next edit. However — perhaps it’s a side effect of being on the Spectrum — I find myself distracted by the mistakes.

Different people work in different ways. I don’t write in longhand, I work on my PC or laptop, I am writing this in bed on my phone (I love the WordPress app!). For longer pieces I use Focus Writer for writing and then edit in Libre Office Writer — both free apps supported by donation — both have a spell checker and so I correct many mistakes on the fly.

The problem with spellcheckers is that many spelling mistakes evade its scrutiny because the misspelling is still in the dictionary as a word in its own right. It is easy — for example — to mistype ‘out’ instead of ‘our’ and the spellchecker will ignore it. Because the spellchecker doesn’t highlight them I don’t correct them on my first draft. It is only when I read over a piece of writing that I see them and correct them. Libre Office also highlights formatting errors and so I correct those on my first edit and any obvious — to me — grammatical errors.

The hard part then is to let others read my writing because inevitably they see errors I have missed. Worse is how glaring those errors seem when pointed out to me. On the plus side letting others read my stuff forcibly engenders a degree of humility and reminds me to listen to the opinions of others. I do hate to read errors in a finished piece of writing, but no one is perfect and a second opinion may well be conditioned by the education and culture of the opiner. In the end after we’ve checked and rechecked we have to let go.

Oh and while I’m on the subject, when you write on your phone never trust the autocorrect because it is evil and exists only to cause embarrassment!

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